I know what you’re thinking. Is that matzo? Well, if it looks and tastes and smells like matzo, it’s MATZO!!!!!!!!!! Yes folks, last year, during Passover, we ate gluten free oat matzo from London at a whopping $30 a box. This year and for all the years to come, we’re eating homemade straight-out-of-our-kitchen gluten free matzo made from a Breads from Anna gluten, soy, and rice free bread mix! And according to the owner of the company, it’s OU Kosher certified and when I spoke with her, she said that she wouldn’t be surprised if you can make matzo with her other mixes as well (soy free, dairy free, yeast free).
The ingredients in the Breads from Anna mix I used include cornstarch and numerous bean flours. If you look at the ingredients list, it includes yeast, but please note that this is in a separate yeast packet that I discarded. Certainly, you can keep the yeast packet, but if you’re keeping a kosher for Passover house, you’ll want to get rid of it. During the mixing and kneading and rolling process, I dusted everything, including my hands, the surface on which I rolled the dough, the dough, and the rolling pin, with a combination of tapioca starch and white rice flour to keep it from sticking. If you follow the Ashkenazic tradition of keeping Passover, you would not want your matzo to include corn or rice or beans. But if you follow the Sephardic tradition of keeping Passover, you are allowed to eat corn, rice, and/or beans. And if you follow the Ashkenazic tradition but are willing to celebrate Passover with some Sephardic customs, youâ€™ll be pleased to know that the rabbi who invited us to his family’s second night seder (celebratory service and feast) said that the matzo I made passed his inspection. I made it the way he explained, making sure that from the moment the water touched the flour, no more than 18 minutes passed before it went into the oven.
Gluten Free Matzo
3/4 cup Breads from Anna gluten, soy, and rice free bread mix
¼ cup very cold water
Equal parts white rice flour and tapioca starch for dusting
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Pour bread mix into mixing bowl. Add very cold water. From this moment on, in order to make “the real deal, kosher-for-Passover (Sephardic) matzo”, no more than 18 minutes must pass from the time the water touches the flour until it finishes baking. Mix with spoon. As soon as the dough comes together, pour it onto a well-floured piece of parchment paper that you have previously adhered to a flat cookie sheet (with no sides). I used some sticky, tacky gummy stuff that you can use to attach posters to the wall. You can buy this type of product at Staples. I tried taping the parchment paper to the cookie sheet, but it wouldn’t hold.
Before kneading the dough, dust your hands with the white rice flour and tapioca starch mixture.
Begin kneading the dough. As soon as the dough comes together, roll it with the rolling pin until it is as thin as you can make it, careful to not tear the dough. Throughout the process, continuously dust your hands, the dough, the surface that the dough is on, and the rolling pin, in order to keep the dough from sticking or tearing. As soon as it is the desired thinness, prick it all over with the tines of a fork. Then put it in the oven. I placed the cookie sheet directly on a baking stone, though I don’t think this is absolutely necessary. It should bake for about 4 – 5 minutes. Check and make sure it isn’t burning. In my oven, I found that there was a fine line between 4 1/2 and 5 minutes, whereby if I didn’t take it out just in the nick of time, it would begin to burn, especially around the edges.
Don’t even waste time pulling out the oven rack – even a few seconds more on the baking sheet can burn the matzo. Simply use a long-handled spatula to remove the matzo from the parchment paper, placing it on a rack to cool. Then remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Let the matzo totally cool before putting it in a ziplock bag. I would even go so far as to leave it uncovered for a day before putting it in a ziplock bag. You want the matzo to stay crisp. POST NOTE MARCH 22, 2010: A skilled matzo maker suggested that if your matzah becomes a bit stale, put it in a 200 degree oven for few minutes to crisp it. This will take out some of the moisture that the matzah might’ve collected.
NOTE: Following this paragraph is a video of me making matzo using an earlier method by which I rolled the dough around the rolling pin before unrolling it and placing it on the baking stone in the oven. But that was before I found a better way to make the matzo per the owner of Breads from Anna as described in this blogpost. The newer method described in this blogpost worked the best! But I am posting the video because my husband spent a great of time formatting it and I want to honor his efforts. Plus, I think you’ll pick up some tips by watching it. By the way, you’ll notice that I’m wearing a Breads from Anna apron, but I have no financial stake in the company. I’m just a huge fan. Her bread is simply the best gluten-free bread in the universe. She’s friendly, helpful, and very eager to provide people with a fabulous gluten free bread! And in my estimation, she has succeeded. And her aprons are cute, aren’t they?
This morning we made honest-to-goodness matzo brei with the matzo we baked yesterday. I tell you, I am bursting with happy, happy, happy! For 51 years, on the morning after the first Passover seder, I always ate matzo brei, doused with sweet maple syrup. My father (may he rest in peace) always ate his matzo brei with grape jelly. Now, I can observe and uphold the same tradition forever and ever!
Perhaps you’re wondering how and what we ate at the two different seders we attended, both outside of our gluten free house. We were invited to my ex-husband’s house for the first seder. We have a wonderfully unique relationship. Here’s a picture of me with my ex’s wife (I’m on the right).
She went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought a new crockpot, cutting board, towels, wooden spoons, knives, and a bunch of other things and designated them gluten free, only to be used to prepare food for me and my husband, to be safely stored when not in use. She asked me to be very detailed in my explanation of a recipe I recommended so that she could cook a safe turkey for us. I gave her the recipe for the barbequed beef I blogged about a few weeks ago. She made the sauce, threw it in the crockpot with the turkey and it was delicious! She made sure that we were the first ones to be served after she cut it (new knife, new cutting board). She also made chicken soup, completely gluten free, minus matzo balls. I was going to make gluten free ones, but I hadn’t yet had time to experiment with the matzo I’d made just a few hours earlier. My sister from Gluten Free For Me made them with potato flakes and told me they came out every bit as good as matzo balls made with matzo meal.
Earlier on the day of the first seder, in our kitchen, I prepared the rest of our feast which we transported with us to both the first and second nights’ seder.
We had Ashkenazic charoset on gluten free matzo with homemade horseradish, the kind that makes every pore in your face wake up.
2 apples, peeled and cored
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons sweet Passover wine
honey or sugar to taste
Chop apples in food processor. Remove from bowl. Chop walnuts in food processor. Remove from bowl and mix with apples. Add rest of ingredients and blend well.
1 lb. horseradish root
1 large fresh beet
½ cup white vinegar
¼ cup sugar
Peel the horseradish root and cut into small, manageable chunks (about 2 inches). Peel and quarter the beet. Grate in a food processor fitted with an S blade. Add the vinegar and sugar to the horseradish and beet mixture in the food processor bowl. Blend well. Add more vinegar if too dry. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. It will keep for several weeks.
We ate a crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside potato kugel.
Crisp Potato Kugel
2 lbs. russet potatoes, shredded (food processor works great for this)
2 lbs. medium onions, diced
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
¼ cup potato starch
1 cup boiling water
¼ cup canola oil
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Saute onion until caramelized.
While onion is cooking, shred potatoes and then squeeze out liquid from shredded potatoes by putting in a clean kitchen towel and squeezing.
Pour the caramelized onion and shredded potato into a large mixing bowl. Mix well to combine.
Stir in eggs, 5 tbsp. oil, salt, pepper and potato/onion mixture.
Sprinkle starch on top.
Pour boiling water over starch and stir thoroughly.
Pour 1/4 cup of oil into a 9×13 baking pan and heat in oven for about 30 seconds, making sure it doesn’t burn.
Carefully pour mixture into pan and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake for 40 minutes or until the top is a deep golden brown.
Notes: It seems unusual to bake this at 500 degrees, but the high heat is necessary to crisp the kugel. It also seems odd to pour ¼ cup of oil into the bottom of the pan before adding the mixture. This is also necessary, as it adds an incredible crispness to the kugel. When you remove it from the oven, there seems to be a large amount of oil bubbling around the perimeter of the kugel. After cooling for a few minutes, it will seep down into the kugel. About 30 minutes into the cooking time, the top will be very brown. I found that I needed to cook it for the entire 40 minutes.
We ate mock chopped liver (again, if you don’t eat lentils, you wouldn’t eat this for Passover, but keep it in mind for Rosh Hashonah).
Mock Chopped Lentil Liver
1 cup brown lentils
3 hard-boiled eggs
2 large onions, chopped
1 ¼ cup walnuts
Cook lentils until soft.* Put in food processor fitted with an S blade and process until just smooth. Remove from fp bowl. Chop the hard boiled eggs in the fp bowl and then remove from fp bowl. Repeat with walnuts. Put lentils, eggs, walnuts in a large mixing bowl. Saute onions in vegetable oil until caramelized. Add to lentil mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill and serve with crackers.
*I used a pressure cooker to cook the lentils. I covered the lentils with water, added 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, brought the PC to high pressure, then reduced heat so that it maintained the high pressure. I cooked it for 10 minutes, then quick released under cold running water. They weren’t finished cooking yet so I returned it to high pressure which took a couple of minutes, then turned off the heat and let it release naturally. The next time, I will cook them for about 12 minutes and see if that is enough cooking time.
We ate tzimmes, a unique combination of sweet potatoes, carrots, and dried fruit. Have you ever heard a Jewish person (probably a woman) say something like “Oy, what are you making such a big tzimmes about?”. Tzimmes is a yiddish word that means making a big fuss about something. In this dish, you take a lot of different vegetables and dried fruits and mix them together, making a big “fuss”!
2 large carrots, peeled
2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled
2 oz. dried apple rings
2 oz. dried mango
2 oz. dried pineapple
1 oz. crystallized ginger
4 oz. dried prunes (or plums)
2 oz. dried cherries
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup orange juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the carrots and sweet potatoes into 2 inch pieces, on the diagonal. Cut the dried apple rings, mango, and pineapple into 1 inch pieces. Dice the ginger into Â½ cubes. Mix all the vegetables and fruits together in a large, deep casserole dish. Pour the brown sugar over the vegetable/fruit mixture. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, rind and juice of the lemon, and the orange juice. Using your hands, blend the entire mixture together. Bake 2 – 2 ½ hours, covered. After two hours, make sure there is still some liquid in the casserole. If not, and if the veggies are soft enough, do not bake any longer. If the veggies aren’t soft enough yet, add some OJ to the casserole and continue baking.
And for dessert, we ate homemade chocolate macaroons.
Passover Chocolate Macaroons
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
12 oz. chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla
14 oz. bag coconut
pinch of salt
Beat egg whites until stiff. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler. Fold in melted chocolate and the rest of the ingredients to the stiff egg whites. Make sure that none of the water or condensed steam from the double boiler spills into the egg whites. They must remain dry. Bake on brown paper bag 350 degrees. When done, put on rack to cool. When cool, freeze cookies. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.
Note: This recipe was given to me by my friend Phyllis, who got it from her friend named Grace! She has always made the macaroons by baking them on brown paper bags cut and fit onto a cookie tray. However, they can be made directly on a cookie sheet or on parchment paper or on silicone sheets which make for easy removing from the cookie sheet.
Ten drops of wine, each representing one of the ten plagues recited at the Passover seder. Notice the beautiful symmetry of the ten drops on this plate. Look at how the parsley teases, beckons, reminds us that with spring comes a new beginning, a chance to start anew. But also, the ten dots shout out loudly, starkly against the white plate, reminding us to always remember, to never forget that we were once slaves in the land of Egypt.
I will never forget, I will always be grateful to God for the blessings in my life. And yes, for the matzo that I can now eat. Though it is considered the bread of affliction, for me, this year I eat matzo, the bread of freedom.